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Hong Kong High Court guilty verdict handed down in national security case

HONG KONG — The first person to be tried under Hong Kong’s sweeping national security law was found guilty of secessionism and terrorism on Tuesday.

The Hong Kong High Court handed down the verdict in the case of Tong Ying-kit, age 24. He’s accused of driving his motorcycle into a group of police officers while carrying a flag bearing the protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” on July 1 last year, a day after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on Hong Kong following months of anti-government protests in 2019.

The verdict was closely watched for indications as to how similar cases will be dealt with in future. More than 100 people have been arrested under the security legislation.

Tong pleaded not guilty to charges of inciting secession, terrorism and an alternative charge of dangerous driving.

He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and his lawyers are expected to argue for a lighter punishment at his sentencing hearing Thursday.

The trial, which ended July 20, was held in the High Court with no jury, under rules allowing this exception from Hong Kong’s common law system if state secrets need to be protected, foreign forces are involved or if the personal safety of jurors needs to be protected. Trials are presided over by judges handpicked by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.

Police officers stand guard as they wait for Tong Ying-kit's arrival at a court in Hong Kong.
Police officers stand guard as they wait for Tong Ying-kit’s arrival at a court in Hong Kong.
AP

Tong’s defense lawyer has said it’s impossible to prove that Tong was inciting secession merely by having used the slogan.

The defense also said there is no evidence that Tong committed the act deliberately, that he avoided crashing into officers and that his actions couldn’t be considered terrorism since there was no serious violence or harm to society.

While Hong Kong has its own Legislative Council, Beijing’s ceremonial legislature imposed the national security law on the semiautonomous city after it determined the body was unable to pass the legislation itself because of political opposition.

That followed the increasingly violent 2019 protests against China’s growing influence over the city’s affairs, despite commitments to allow the city to maintain its own system for 50 years after the 1997 handover from British rule.

A prison van, right, which a police officer says is carrying Tong Ying-kit arrives at a court in Hong Kong.
A prison van, right, which a police officer says is carrying Tong Ying-kit arrives at a court in Hong Kong.
AP

China’s legislature has mandated changes to the makeup of the city’s Legislative Council to ensure an overwhelming pro-Beijing majority, and required that only those it determines “patriots” can hold office.

Authorities have banned the protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” stating that it has secessionist connotations. Library books and school curricula have also been investigated for alleged secessionist messages.

Hong Kong’s last remaining pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, was forced out of business last month and a court denied bail for four editors and journalists held on charges of endangering national security as part of the widening crackdown.

Beijing has dismissed criticisms, saying it is merely restoring order to the city and instituting they same type of national security protections found in other countries.

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Mets may pursue Trevor Story, Javier Baez at MLB trade deadline

The Mets expect Francisco Lindor back in the lineup by the end of August, if not before, but still could seek a short-term answer at shortstop.

Trevor Story and Javier Baez are among the shortstops the Mets could pursue heading to Friday’s trade deadline, with the idea either could shift to third base once Lindor returns from a strained right oblique.

“We’re open minded if there are other options that could also have versatility to help us when Francisco does come back,” acting general manager Zack Scott said before the Mets split a doubleheader Monday against the Braves.

“Those are things we’d explore as well.”

Lindor’s oblique strain carries a time frame of four-to-six weeks’ recovery, according to Scott. The Mets lost the shortstop to a Grade 2 strain on July 16.

Scott added that he still likes in-house options Luis Guillorme and Jonathan Villar at shortstop.

Mets
Trevor Story and Javier Baez
Getty Images (2)

Manager Luis Rojas all but confirmed that Carlos Carrasco’s season debut for the Mets will occur this weekend against the Reds at Citi Field.

The right-hander pitched three scoreless innings for Triple-A Syracuse on Sunday in a third rehab start.

Carrasco has been on the injured list since tearing his right hamstring in spring training.


Jacob deGrom will throw another “light side” session in the next day or two, according to Rojas. The Mets ace threw from a mound Sunday for the first time since he was placed on the IL with right forearm tightness.


Scott said he is still expecting Noah Syndergaard to return this season from his Tommy John surgery rehab. The right-hander isn’t projected back before early September.

“Whether that’s as a reliever, that’s a starter, I’d be thrilled with just having him and having that arm available to get important outs,” Scott said.


The Mets announced the return of Banner Day, a longtime popular tradition. With field access limited due to the safety protocols, this year’s Virtual Banner Day will be a month-long digital fan celebration that began Monday, with the Mets announcing a winner on Aug. 26. Fans can submit their banners in the form of a photo or video at Mets.com/bannerday. Submissions are open until Aug. 9.


The Mets were sifting through internal options to start Tuesday night’s game against the Braves.

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Mike Enzi, retired Wyoming senator, dead after bike accident

Former Wyoming senator Mike Enzi died on Monday after he was seriously injured in a bicycle accident last week.

The senator’s family announced his passing in a message posted to his Twitter page late Monday night.

“Former Wyoming U.S. Senator Mike Enzi passed away peacefully today surrounded by his family,” the statement read.

“His family expresses their deep appreciation for all of the prayers, support and concern. They now ask for privacy and continued prayers during this difficult time. The family is planning to hold a celebration of a life well-lived, with details to be shared later.”

On Friday, the senator was riding his bike near his home in Gillette, Wyo. when something went awry. Enzi was badly injured and needed to be flown to UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colo.

The Republican was elected to the senate in 1996 and decided not to seek reelection in 2020.

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Lydia Jacoby’s fans erupt into frenzy as she wins Olympic gold

A wild video shows friends and family of Lydia Jacoby erupt into a frenzy when the 17-year-old Alaskan swimmer won an Olympic gold medal on Tuesday.

The ecstatic fans witnessed Jacoby’s stunning victory in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke at a hometown watch party in Seward, Alaska.

The crowd jumped into the air in an incredible scene of jubilation as the high-schooler, the first swimmer from Alaska to make the US Olympic swimming team, defeated teammate and defending champion Lilly King.

“I was definitely racing for a medal. I knew I had it in me,” Jacoby said after the win.

Lydia Jacoby poses on the podium after the final of the women's 100m breaststroke swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Lydia Jacoby poses on the podium after the final of the women’s 100m breaststroke swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
AFP via Getty Images

“I wasn’t really expecting a gold medal, so when I looked up and saw the scoreboard it was insane.”

King, who took home the bronze medal, cheered on her younger teammate.

Fans celebrate Lydia Jacoby's gold medal victory in Alaska.
Fans celebrate Lydia Jacoby’s gold medal victory in Alaska.
Twitter

“I’m so excited for Lydia,” King said.

“I love to see the future of American breaststroke coming up like this and to have somebody to go at it head to head in the country.”

South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker claimed the silver.


Follow all the 2020 Olympics action


With Post wires

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Cleveland Guardians’ name change hits roller derby snag

The newly renamed Cleveland Guardians aren’t the only Guardians in town.

When the Cleveland Indians announced their name change last week, the move was met with a mixed reaction among baseball fans. It also raised a red flag with a local roller derby team named the… Cleveland Guardians.

That could spell trouble for the baseball club, as their neighbors on skates are the owners of the clevelandguardians.com domain, as well as social media monikers it might be interested in — @ClevelandGuardians on Instagram and Facebook.

Using @Guardians is not an option either, as the handle is owned by Disney and its “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise.

cleveland guardians logo
The roller derby Cleveland Guardians could be a headache for the renamed MLB team.

While the roller derby team appears to have abandoned its trademark, the Bryant Street Sports LLC of New York filed for trademarks protections for “Cleveland Guardians” in 2020. The Indians objected to the application this month, and the filing was withdrawn on July 21 — which may signify the sides worked something out, or that the baseball team filed its own application.

That would just leave the URL — with an unknown ownership calendar with the roller derby team having first right of renewal — and social media handles to be worked out.

The Indians don’t plan to make the Guardians switch until after the 2021 season, so there’s some time to work things out, though with the team five games out of an AL wild-card spot with 65 games left in the regular season, there may not a whole lot of it left.

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US women’s gymnastics goes for team gold Tuesday

Gold lasts forever, but sports dynasties do not.

The U.S. women’s gymnastics team — one of the biggest near-locks to win a gold medal in any event at the Tokyo Olympics — finished behind the Russia Olympic Committee team in the qualifying round. The stunning result marked the first time since the 2010 World Championships that Team USA finished out of first place, and either it will be remembered as a wake-up call to a giant accustomed to winning with ease or as the first sign of a crack in the invincible armor.

Scores are wiped clean after qualifying, so the still-favored U.S. doesn’t have ground to make up, but suddenly there is less margin for error for Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum on Tuesday at 6:45 a.m. ET (live on Peacock streaming service, replay at 8 p.m. on NBC). Three gymnasts for each country will compete on each of the four events — floor exercise, vault, uneven bars and balance beam — to formulate the team score.

“We had great performances today, and some not so great ones,” national team coordinator Tom Forster said Sunday after qualifying. “But the errors that we made, I think, are mental, because the girls have been training incredibly well. So it’s things that we have some time to work on before finals, and we’ll do it.”


Follow all the 2020 Olympics action


The 1954 Yankees didn’t win a sixth straight World Series. The 1961 Montreal Canadiens fell short of a sixth straight Stanley Cup. The 1967 Boston Celtics’ bid for a nine-peat failed. Is 2021 the end of an 11-year-run of American superiority in women’s gymnastics?

Probably not if Biles — the most decorated female gymnast of all time — eliminates some of the sloppy mistakes that limited her off-the-charts scoring. She still posted the highest individual score in qualifying — and Lee was third — but the U.S. needs Biles to widen the gap at the top.

Simone Biles and the U.S. women's gymnastics team goes for team gold Tuesday.
Simone Biles and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team goes for team gold Tuesday.
AP Photo

“It wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it,” Biles wrote on Instagram. “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The Olympics is no joke!”

Russia has made up a lot of ground in just two years, after a second-place finish of more than five points — a huge margin in gymnastics, where tenths of a point are separators — behind the U.S. at the 2019 World Championships. Russia won silver at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and last finished ahead of its longtime rivals on the biggest stage in 2000.

Jordan Chiles on the balance beam.
Jordan Chiles on the balance beam.
AP Photo

“I want to say congratulations to Russia for the amazing competition they did today,” Forster said. “For the transformation they’ve made since 2019.”

Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner also competed for Team USA during qualifying, when there is greater wiggle room because the lowest total of four scorers per event is dropped. Scores are based on a combination of difficulty and execution, and the Russians passed the Americans — 171.629 to 170.562 — by using near-flawless routines to make up for some missing technical components.

Biles and McCallum both stepped out of bounds on the floor routines, while Chiles dragged her feet on bars and fell off the beam once before ending with a shaky dismount. Carey scored big but was entered as an unattached individual competitor and not part of Team USA’s scoring.

“Wasn’t the meet of my life,” Chiles wrote on Instagram, “but I do have to say I learned a lot from it, and ready to go out and show the world why I am here.”

The world will be watching to see whether a dynasty ends or continues.

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Wife of Uber driver killed in crash doesn’t know how to tell kids

“He left us alone.”

The Long Island woman whose Uber-driving husband was killed along with four others in a head-on collision Saturday night has said she’s at a loss about to tell the couple’s three young children that their father won’t be coming home.

“The kids have been asking me since yesterday when their father is coming,” 26-year-old Hifsa Ahmad told Newsday. “‘Why is he still at work? Why isn’t he coming?’ They really don’t understand.”

Farhan Zahid, 32, and three of his four passengers died when a westbound Nissan Maxima crossed the center line on Montauk Highway in the village of Quogue at around 11:15 p.m. and slammed into the eastbound Toyota Prius driven by Zahid.

Passengers Michael O. Farrell, 20; James P. Farrell, 25; and Ryan J. Kiess, 25, all of Manhasset, were also killed in the crash, as was the driver of the Maxima, 22-year-old Justin B. Mendez of Brookhaven. Kiess’ girlfriend, 22-year-old Brianna M. Maglio of Garden City, remained in critical condition at Peconic Bay Medical Center Monday night.

Zahid and Ahmad were married in Pakistan in 2014. She had lived on Long Island, as do most of her family, since 2008. Zahid followed his wife to the US in 2016 and found work as an Uber driver to support Ahmad and their kids — son Ayan, 6, daughter Mishal, 3, and son Ahaan, 16 months.

“I have no support; he was working; he was the only one,” a tearful Ahmad told Newsday. “He was a good partner. A good husband. He was really nice.”

Ahmad added that she was getting ready to open a beauty parlor in the couple’s hometown of Bay Shore next month and the family was planning to travel to Pakistan in October to see Zahid’s sister get married. Soon, they will all be together for Zahid’s funeral.

Quogue police are scheduled to provide an update on their investigation of the crash on Tuesday. Investigators believe the Maxima was speeding, which played a key role in the deadly collision.

“Our thoughts are with the families of Mr. Zahid and the four others who lost their lives in this heartbreaking crash,” an Uber spokesperson said, “and we hope the survivor makes a full recovery.”

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Yankees need a spark from Aaron Judge, others returning

TAMPA — If the Yankees are going to salvage something out of this season, they’ll need to move quickly.

Aaron Judge, Luke Voit and Kyle Higashioka were at Steinbrenner Field Monday, as Judge and Higashioka prepare to return from the COVID-19 IL and Voit works his way back from left knee inflammation that’s also landed him on the IL.

Judge took batting practice and did defensive drills Monday after he and Higashioka traveled to Boston from New York to rejoin the team on Sunday before Monday’s off day.

They each had to go through cardio exams before being cleared to play and on Sunday, Aaron Boone said it was uncertain when Judge would be ready to be in the lineup.

Higashioka figures to be ready Tuesday, since the Yankees returned Rob Brantly to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room on the 40-man roster for new reliever, Clay Holmes, acquired Monday from Pittsburgh.

Aaron Boone said Monday it was uncertain when Aaron Judge would be back in the Yankees lineup.
Aaron Boone said Monday it was uncertain when Aaron Judge would be back in the Yankees lineup.
Getty Images

But the Yankees are in desperate need of a spark, having just dropped three of four in Boston to the first-place Red Sox.

Two of those losses came in crushing fashion, with the one win a dramatic victory on Saturday that was immediately overshadowed by an even worse defeat the next day.

Remarkably, they’re 10-6 since Aroldis Chapman blew the game against the Mets in the first game of a July 4 doubleheader in The Bronx.

Still, they left Fenway nine games back of Boston in the AL East and in a virtual tie for third with Toronto, which also trails Tampa Bay.

And in the wild-card standings, the Yankees found themselves four games back of the second spot following Sunday’s loss.

Judge was in the midst of a stellar season before being sidelined by COVID, with 21 homers, an OPS of .901, 47 RBIs, 46 walks and 51 runs scored — all team highs.

He last played in the All-Star Game on July 13 in Colorado before he joined what became a group of six Yankees players who tested positive for COVID.

Jonathan Loaisiga was the first player impacted, hitting the COVID IL on July 10. He was followed by fellow relievers Wandy Peralta and Nestor Cortes Jr., with Gio Urshela, Judge and Higashioka also eventually being forced out.

Loaisiga, Cortes and Urshela have returned.

Loaisiga gave up four runs in a disastrous eighth inning on Sunday, pitching on back-to-back days for the first time since June 1-2, even though the right-hander hadn’t appeared in a game since July 9 prior to Saturday’s outing.

Without Judge coming out of the All-Star break, the Yankees still managed to win four of their first five games of the second half.

That helped cut their deficit in the division to seven games on Wednesday, but another ugly weekend in Boston left the Yankees’ chances of making the postseason at just 35.7 percent, according to Fangraphs.

And to win the division, Fangraphs gave the Yankees just a 3.5 percent chance.

The Yankees, though, still appear to be in buy mode leading into Friday’s trade deadline, but regardless of what additions they may make to their roster this week, none are likely to have a greater impact than Judge.

Luke Voit is set to return from a torn meniscus, looking to turn his season around.
Luke Voit is set to return from his latest injury and is looking to turn his season around.
NY POST Photo/Corey Sipkin

Voit, meanwhile, has had a miserable season, sidelined by a torn meniscus in his left knee that led to surgery in spring training, followed by a strained oblique and then the left knee inflammation — which the Yankees said was unrelated to the meniscus injury.

After leading the majors with 22 homers a year ago, Voit has just three this season and the Yankees have struggled at first base throughout the season.

Boone declined to put a timetable on Voit’s potential return, but time is running out for him to make an impact this year.

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‘Housewives’ star Lisa Rinna to return to ‘Days of Our Lives’

Billie Reed is back on “Days of Our Lives” — but only for a limited time.

Lisa Rinna, known now for her television personality on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” will come out of her soap opera retirement for one last hurrah as her reprised role as Billie Reed.

NBC, which airs the legendary soap, announced the return of Rinna, 58, on Monday.

“Billie Reed is back,” Rinna wrote on Instagram to promote the limited series, “Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem,” which will run on NBC’s streaming platform Peacock.

Rinna‘s return to the screen as her beloved fictional character marks the first time since she left the iconic show in 2018. The actress had been part of the “Days of Our Lives” cast on and off since 1992.

NBC released the plot of the miniseries ahead of Rinna’s comeback. “Over a long weekend, John and Marlena travel to Zurich; Ben and Ciara have a romantic getaway in New Orleans; Chad visits some old friends in Phoenix; and Abe, Paulina, Lani, and Eli vacation in Miami. All find themselves embroiled in a mystery involving stolen jewels which, in the wrong hands, could cause dire consequences for Salem. It’s a race against time for ISA agent Billie Reed as she crosses the globe in search of this missing treasure.”

The show revives other infamous fan favorites such as Drake Hogestyn as John Black and Deidre Hall as Dr. Marlena Evans.

Days of Our Lives still
The miniseries will bring back other beloved fan favorites.
NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Peacock has ordered five episodes of the limited series, yet another extension of the 1965 original “Days of Our Lives,” which has run more than 14,000 episodes since its debut.

Two years ago, NBC released another limited series based on the long-running soap opera called “Last Blast Reunion,” which included eight episodes.

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US cities, gov’t agency implement COVID vax mandates for workers

New COVID-19 vaccine requirements for government employees are being unveiled across the US as the country attempts to jump-start its slowing immunization rate.

The vaccine mandates come amid what federal health officials have called a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Those in the US who have not received a vaccine now account for around 99.5 percent of the country’s coronavirus deaths and 97 percent of its hospitalizations, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With nearly 51 percent of the US population still not fully vaccinated, cities such as the Big Apple and San Francisco, as well as at least one state and federal agency, are rolling out new policies.

New York City

Gotham just announced a mandate for its municipal workers — including teachers and police officers — to get vaccinated by mid-September or undergo weekly coronavirus testing.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the new rule was part of the effort to boost the city’s recovery.

“This is about what we need to do to bring back New York City, This is about keeping people safe,” de Blasio said Monday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio referred to the city's vaccine mandate for municipal worker as  "about keeping people safe."
Mayor Bill de Blasio referred to the city’s vaccine mandate for municipal worker as “about keeping people safe.”
James Messerschmidt

The policy will impact the city’s 340,000 employees.

De Blasio said unvaccinated city employees will be required to wear masks indoors at all times, as well as get the weekly testing.

San Francisco

San Francisco will require its 35,000 city employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine — or they could potentially lose their jobs.

The northern California municipality is believed to be the first US city to mandate that all government staffers be inoculated against the virus, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Workers will be granted exemptions for medical or religious reasons, the outlet reported.

But those without exemptions who still refuse to get vaccinated will face “repercussions [that] go all the way up to termination,” said Mawuli Tugbenyoh, chief of policy for the city’s Department of Human Resources.

California

California will require all state workers and health-care employees to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or face weekly testing.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the new policy will take effect Aug. 2 and testing will be phased in over the next few weeks.

“An individual’s choice not to get vaccinated is now impacting the rest of us in a profound and devastating and deadly way,” Newsom said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has required state employees to get vaccinated by the beginning of August or get tested weekly.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has required state employees to get vaccinated by the beginning of August or get tested weekly.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The policy will impact around 238,000 state employees and at least 2 million health-care workers in the public and private sectors, according to the state’s controller’s office.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs 

The federal Department of Veterans Affairs has mandated that all of its health-care personnel get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The agency announced Monday that the new rule will affect physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses and physician assistants, as well as workers in departmental facilities and those who provide direct care to veterans.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough announced that VA health care workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough announced that VA health care workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

“Increased vaccinations among health care personnel will not only reduce the spread of COVID-19 but also reduce the harmful toll this virus is taking within the health care workforce and those we are striving to serve,” said Dr. Susan Bailey, immediate past president of the American Medical Association, in a statement.

Employees will be given eight weeks to get the jab — though it’s unclear whether those who refuse will face any repercussions.

With Post Wires